Group Dressed as Breasts Gathers to Protest Facebook’s Censorship of Areola Tattoos

Having a mastectomy is a very serious and life-changing experience. Deciding what to do after can also be overwhelming. Do you opt for reconstruction, go flat, or take advantage of nipple tattoos? Social media can help breast cancer patients read about the experiences of others to better understand their own options. However, sometimes helpful information about areola tattoos can be flagged or removed due to nudity rules. A group of breast cancer survivors and tattoo artists recently protested outside of Facebook’s London headquarters to speak out against this.

Protestors dressed as giant breasts gathered outside the Oxford Circus-area office to push the social media giant to reconsider its moderating practices. Areola tattooing group World Medical Artists, which organized the protest, wants Facebook to stop removing post-mastectomy images that feature areola tattoos. Attendees said some of them had their photos removed or their profiles blocked due to an unfair sexualization of this personal experience. They also say the photo removal harms breast cancer patients’ ability to learn more about their options.

Though Facebook does not allow nudity in posts, there are exceptions for female breasts, including protests, breastfeeding, and post-mastectomy scars. Unfortunately, pictures of post-mastectomy breasts are often removed if they feature a tattooed areola.

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A Facebook spokesperson explains, “Images showing post-mastectomy scarring and areola tattoos are absolutely allowed on Facebook and Instagram. We applaud the incredible work medical tattooists do for breast cancer survivors, and know our apps play an important role in helping these communities connect.

“By design, these tattoos often look extremely realistic, which means our technology – and even our content reviewers – don’t always spot the difference, so we do encourage people to make it clear when they’re posting an image that’s a tattoo.”

They added that they are working with World Medical Artists to restore images that had previously been removed, and they are trying to tweak the algorithm to make sure this stops happening.

If you’re considering getting nipple tattoos yourself, here are some options that are available.

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